By Rex Wockner Wockner News Service

Head of Russian Orthodox Church, Alexy II, says homosexuality is like kleptomania

Patriarch Alexy II, head of the Russian Orthodox Church and Russia’s most senior religious leader, told European MPs on Oct. 1 that homosexuality is like compulsive thieving.

Speaking to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Alexy said homosexuality is “an illness [and] distortion of the human personality like kleptomania.”

Alexy added that “no one should force me and my brothers and sisters in faith to keep quiet when we call something a sin when it is a sin according to the word of God.” He noted, however, that Orthodox Christians must “love sinners despite their sins.”

Some MPs from other Orthodox Christian nations applauded the patriarch’s remarks.

The Council of Europe, founded in 1949, promotes democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and similar agreements. Forty-seven nations are members.

Decisions are made by the Committee of Ministers, which is composed of the 47 foreign ministers or their deputies. The 640-member Parliamentary Assembly, composed of members of the 47 national parliaments, conducts investigations and makes recommendations. The secretariat, headed by the secretary general, who is elected by the Parliamentary Assembly, employs some 2,000 people recruited from the 47 nations.

Other council components include the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, a voice for Europe’s regions and municipalities; and the European Court of Human Rights.

Russian blood donation activists fined after protesting outside Ministry of Health

Six Moscow gay activists arrested outside the Ministry of Health and Social Development while protesting Russia’s ban on gay blood donors were each fined $20 or $40 Sept. 26.

Tverskoi District Court Judge Natalya Dyatlova determined the demonstrators had violated Article 20.2 of the Code on Administrative Offenses by staging an unauthorized public event.

Only protest organizer Alexey Davydov received the higher fine.

Russia banned gays from donating blood in 2001. The general prosecutor’s office has since determined that the ban is illegal but the ministry has failed to lift it, said Nikolai Alekseev of Project GayRussia.Ru.

“We are going to appeal the court decision [and if] necessary, we are ready to take the cases of those activists up to the European Court of Human Rights,” he said.

Ireland’s Equality Authority accuses country’s government of hypocrisy

Ireland’s Equality Authority, an independent agency created by the government, has accused the government of hypocrisy on gay issues.

The authority criticized the government Oct. 1 for excluding religious schools from laws that ban firing people based on sexual orientation. Schools and other religious institutions are allowed to oust gays and lesbians in order to protect their religious ethos.

More than 90 percent of elementary schools in Ireland reportedly are run by churches.

“The … government makes a commitment to rights for same-sex couples but that commitment means nothing for people who work in schools or other religious institutions,” said Equality Authority chief executive Niall Crowley.

Activists say that in predominantly Roman Catholic Ireland, the legal exemption also could affect teachers who are divorced or who cohabit with an opposite-sex partner.

Catholic teaching considers as serious sins such things as masturbation, sex outside of marriage, gay sex, any sex act (even within a marriage) that can’t lead to pregnancy, and any second marriage that is not accompanied by an official church annulment of the first marriage.

Guatemalan bill defining family targets gay couples and single parents

Legislation pending in Guatemala’s Congress would define “family” solely as a father, a mother and their child or children.

The Integral Protection for Marriage and Family Act would bar single parents and same-sex couples from the definition of “family” and punish any Guatemalan official who publicly contradicts the definition.

“Family essentially originates, exclusively, from the conjugal union between a man and a woman through marriage or through a legally declared de facto union and other social forms, such as a religious ceremony or ritual, custom or cultural practice, as the only natural design,” the bill states.

Human Rights Watch denounced the measure Oct. 1, saying it “would declare that nearly 40 percent of Guatemalan families … are not families at all.”

“This bill takes aim at lesbian and gay couples, but it has almost half of Guatemalan children and parents in its sights,” said HRW LGBT-rights researcher Juliana Cano Nieto. “Targeting children and their caregivers in the name of a political agenda is not only unjustifiable, it is morally reprehensible.”

Lesbians and gays stage gay Pride march in Johannesburg’s Soweto district

About 150 people, mostly lesbians, staged a gay Pride march in Johannesburg’s large, black Soweto district Sept. 29.

Wearing shirts with the slogan “Pissed off woman,” the participants demanded, among other things, protection from homophobic attacks.

In July, a lesbian couple was murdered “execution style” and their bodies were found dumped in a field in Meadowlands township. Sizakele Sigasa, 34, and Salome Masooa, 23, were tortured and raped, then shot to death. Police have yet to arrest anyone for the crimes.

The march began at Mphuthi Street and Roodepoort Road in Central Western Jabavu, proceeded to the Meadowlands police station and ended at Credo Mutwa Park.

Lutheran Bishops’ Conference in Norway votes to allow gays as pastors

The Bishops’ Conference of Norway’s dominant Lutheran church voted 6-5 Oct. 2 to allow openly gay pastors. The conference offers advice but does not set policy. The matter now advances to the Church of Norway’s General Synod, where a formal decision can be made. The body next meets Nov. 12-27.

2 Saudi men convicted of sodomy receive first set of sentence of 7,000 lashes

Two Saudi men convicted of sodomy have received the first set of 7,000 lashes in punishment, the Okaz daily newspaper reported Oct. 4. The whipping took place in public in the southwestern city of Al Bahah on Oct. 2, the paper said.

After the beatings, they were returned to prison to await further sets of whippings. The report did not specify how many lashes are meted out each time.

Colombia high court ruling allows gays to add partners to health insurance

BOGOTA, Colombia Gays in Colombia may add their partners to health insurance plans, the nation’s highest court has ruled, building on an earlier decision granting inheritance rights to same-sex couples. The Oct. 5 ruling by the Constitutional Court cannot be appealed.

In February, the court said gay couples need only prove they have been living together for two years in order to obtain the right to half their partner’s possessions and inheritance after death or separation.

The court has not ruled on pension rights for gay couples in the event a partner dies.

Colombia Diversa, which defends the rights of sexual minorities, says the country has 300,000 gay couples.

Editorial assistance by Bill Kelley

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 12, 2007 siteпоисковая оптимизация пост